"Embarcome": Manuel Uruchurtu Ramirez

Manuel Uruchurtu Ramirez is the only confirmed passenger of Mexican nationality on Titanic.

He was born in late June of 1872, in Sonora, Mexico, into an elite family. As such, he had the privilege of traveling to Mexico City in order to study law.

While there, he met and married another student by the name of Gertrudis, who was from a similarly aristocratic (and therefore affluent) family.

Manuel and Gertrudis settled into life in Mexico City, going on to have a total of seven children. Manuel, in the meanwhile, established his law practice.

By way of his familial connections, education, and friendship with the Vice President of Mexico, Ramon Corral, Manuel became a politician.

But when the dictatorship was overthrown in 1911, and both President Porfirio Diaz and Vice President Corral were banished, Manuel found himself in a precarious situation. He was reportedly considered a member of the “catrines;" that is, an individual who had close personal ties to the now-former government owing to his wealth and/or social standing.

Not great, and certainly unsafe.

And so, Manuel Uruchurtu found himself himself fleeing to Europe in order to reconnect with his fellows.

After conducting a meeting with Vice President Corral on or about March 1, 1912, Manuel booked passage home on the SS City of Paris, which was scheduled to depart on April 10, 1912, from the port of Cherbourg. He was ready to be home, it's reported, and eager to see Gertrudis again.

Shortly before he was set to travel, however, Manuel had a visitor to his hotel in Paris. Guillermo Obregon, who was Vice President Corral’s son-in-law, had arrived to discuss what turned out to be a fateful exchange: that of Manuel’s ticket upon the SS City of Paris with his own on the Titanic.

This writer has not found evidence as to why Obregon was eager to swap tickets with Manuel. Given comparison of the two travel routes, it would seem reasonable to assume that Obregon wanted to get to Mexico as soon as he possibly could, owing to the fact that Titanic was scheduled to arrive very far away in New York City. And Manuel was almost certainly obligated to any member of Corral’s family.


Manuel agreed to the exchange of tickets. He would travel on Titanic, in room PC 17601.

Manuel’s travel plans can’t have been altered much. He was still going to depart from Cherbourg on April 10. As such, he took the train down, and made some new acquaintances along the way, including fellow First-Class passenger Edith Russell.

The trip going down to Cherbourg was marked out distinctly by the acquaintanceship started with several very nice ladies in my (train) compartment, one a Swedish lady, two others Americans, who had been cabled to return to America and were overjoyed that they were sailing on this wonderful boat, and a Mexican gentleman, who informed me that he was a member of Parliament in Mexico. We were a merry little party; the fact that all were going on this exceptional ship seemed to draw us together, as everybody was looking forward to seeing the monster boat.

Courtesy of [source]

From Cherbourg, Manuel sent his last documented communication: a telegram to his brother that read only, “Embarcome.”

Little information pertaining to Manuel Uruchurtu’s actions while on board Titanic are definitive or—more accurately—confirmed to have happened at all.

Because Manuel is more or less exclusively noted today because of his famed Heroic Act.

Unfortunately--like so much of what happened on and within Titanic throughout the sinking--this story of Manuel Uruchurtu, which has been recounted for some time by his indirect descendant, is thus far unsubstantiated.

The story goes that Manuel was offered a seat in Lifeboat 11 owing to his political stature, but when an Englishwoman from Second-Class was not allowed to board that same lifeboat, he acted in chivalry and faith and forfeited his seat to her.

It's reported that in return, Manuel but asked her to visit his family back in Mexico to share his final memory with them, which the woman agreed to do.

And while this narrative is certainly compelling, it is the opinion of this writer that the story is most likely fabricated.

The woman supposedly in question, Elizabeth Rammell Nye, did, in fact, survive the sinking in Lifeboat 11. But she provided multiple accounts as to what occurred that night, and she made no mention of Manuel. Nor did anyone else in the lifeboat.

Moreover, Edith Russell, who was confirmed to have made an acquaintance with Manuel en route to Cherbourg, was also in Lifeboat 11, and yet—despite her many, many accounts about Titanic—she  made no mention of Manuel’s Heroic Act, which surely would not have gone unnoticed by her, had it occurred.

Additionally, supporting documentation has not been produced in an accessible format, despite claims to the contrary.

Multiple people, including Manuel’s own granddaughter and an author who had previously been led to accept the story as truth, have come forward in recent years to discredit it as fantastical.

Butin spite of all of this, the true importance of Manuel Uruchurtu’s experience during the sinking should neither be mistaken nor disregarded: regardless of the veracity of the story about Manuel giving up his seat in Lifeboat 11, the truth of the matter is that he was an actual person who lived and was lost. Lost to his family and his country and to the memory of so many people who never even knew that he was on Titanic.

And he was brave because at some point within that frigid night, amidst trauma and chaos and fear, he confronted his mortality.

Manuel Uruchurtu died on April 15, 1912, in the sinking of the Titanic. His body, if ever recovered, went unidentified.

He was 39 years old.

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